The Whole Golden World Facebook meme – guest post by Kristina Riggle

In November, Kristina Riggle released what is my absolute favorite of her books to date, The Whole Golden World. I never got around to reviewing it, because I read it six months early and I am super lame, but it is really fabulous, written with her trademark empathy and humanity, and her acknowledgement that real life is a messy business. If you aren’t familiar with the book, here’s the description for you:

To the outside Diana and Joe have a perfect family-three lovely children, a beautiful home, and a cafe that’s finally taking off. But their world is rocked when it’s discovered that their oldest daughter, 17-year-old Morgan is having an affair with her married teacher, TJ Hill.

Their town rocks with the scandal. When the case goes to trial, the family is torn further apart when Morgan sides not with her parents – as a manipulated teenage girl; but with TJ himself – as a woman who loves a 30-year-old man.

Told from the perspectives of Morgan, Diana, and TJ’s wife, Rain, this is an unforgettable story that fully explores the surprising, even shocking, events that change the lives of two families.

I love Riggle’s work in general and have, in the past, hosted her for both an interview and a virtual book club and wanted to share The Whole Golden World with you all in some new and unique way. Luckily, Riggle is more creative than I am (this is why she’s the novelist), and suggested a post based on that Facebook meme going around where people share a certain number of things about themselves. If you haven’t yet read the book, this should give you a little taste of the three point of view characters; if you have read the book, here’s some extra insight! So now just sit back and pretend you were Facebook friends with all three of these women before all the drama went down between Morgan and TJ.

———-

Morgan Monetti

OK, so Britney bugged me into doing this, which is not how it’s supposed to work because it’s only supposed to be if you “like” a person’s post, but whatever, here goes.

She wanted me to do eight things but I’m only doing five. That’s where I draw the line.

1) I wanted to play the string bass until I realized how incredibly boring those parts are usually (BOM, BOM, BOM… rest… BOM, BOM, BOM), so I went with the second biggest stringed instrument instead.
2) I’m really good at silent cello practice. I do the fingering and hold my bow above the strings, or just “air bow”. I do this because my cello is really loud and sometimes when I feel like practicing, other people are sleeping.
3) I’ve never read Twilight or The Hunger Games and probably won’t, just because I’m already tired of them without even opening the books. The Fault in Our Stars was great, though.
4) I love old episodes of M*A*S*H. Totally weird because that show was off the air before I was born, but it’s funny as hell.
5) I never want to get a tattoo because I have a scar already and would never do that kind of thing to myself on purpose.

(I’m not going to give you a number if you “like” the post. If you want to do one, make up your own number).

 

Rain Davidson-Hill

Some things about me. Like this and I’ll give you a number. I think that’s how this works.

1) My one brave thing I’ve ever done was go to Italy by myself.
2) That’s where I met my friend Alessia, who visited me back here.
3) Alessia married my husband’s brother so now we’re family. (I know I’m stretching that out for three things. Beverly gave me the number eight, and I can’t think of that many things people don’t already know.)
4) Even though I teach yoga, I really suck at meditating. But I try not to care that I suck at it, which I figure is in the same spirit of non-judgment and being at peace with myself.
5) My siblings’ names are Fawn and Stone. And people think because I have a weird hippie name, I must be a weird hippie myself. Which is funny because I didn’t name myself.
6) I met my husband at a sand volleyball game on campus at college, when a bunch of us chose up teams, and he picked me.
7) I bit my lip digging for a ball with far too much enthusiasm at that very volleyball game, and ended up with a swollen, bloody lip. I figured, “That’s what I get for trying to impress a guy.”
8) TJ Hill was worth a swollen, bloody lip. Love you, honey.

 

Dinah Monetti

I got the number 7 from Joe Monetti.

1) I met Joe at his family’s pizza place and at first I thought he was just a doofus.
2) Some alternate names for The Den, which demonstrate why it’s good that Joe came up with the name and not me: The Hangout, Teen Cave, Live and Let Latte. Yes, I almost picked that last one.
3) My first car was a Chevy Impala and had dents on three of the four corners. I’m really bad at parking.
4) My first nickname as a little girl was Sweetie and I was known for being shy. Yes, really. I don’t know what happened either.
5) Joe fainted when he found out we were having twins, though to this day he denies it and says he just chose to stretch out on the floor of the doctor’s office. To recover from the shock.
6) I love Christmas music and my favorite is “Carol of the Bells”.
7) My greatest treasures in life are my kids, and I will now embarrass them by saying so on Facebook. Love you times a million, Morgan, Connor and Jared!

This was fun! Like this and I’ll give you a number!

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Interview with Kristina Riggle, author of Keepsake

Kristina Riggle is the author of four novels, the most recent of which is Keepsake, which is the story of a hoarder trying to clean up her act and the family who attempts to help her. I previously reviewed Riggle’s other novels: Real Life and Liars, The Life You’ve Imaginedand Things We Didn’t SayI emailed with Riggle recently to talk about Keepsake and her writing career. Please see the end of this post for a giveaway opportunity. 

Jen: How did you choose to write about hoarding? What about it sparked a story for you?

Kristina: Inevitably, I will write about something that fascinates me. Years ago, I saw an episode of Oprah about a compulsive hoarder. Her personal appearance was immaculate, and the exterior of her home was beautiful. By all appearances she was an intelligent, rational, articulate woman. When she opened the door to her home, inside was a horror show of filth and debris. Even more striking was when she showed the producers an empty garbage can. She could not bear to ruin the “perfect” garbage can with trash, though the rest of her house was, in essence, a trash heap. When I was brainstorming new book ideas, it seemed like a natural topic that would be perfect for the type of character-driven story I like to write. It also turned out — not deliberately — to use some of the same themes I covered in an earlier unpublished manuscript, which also featured two sisters with opposite temperaments brought together reluctantly.

Jen: Did you have to do a lot of research about hoarding to write Keepsake?

Kristina: A fair amount. I read books and articles, and watched the currently popular hoarding reality shows, of course. The most interesting thing I did was to fill out a hoarding self-help workbook “in character” as Trish. There are many varieties of hoarder, and this exercise helped me fix her character in my mind. I also worked with a former college roommate who is a clinical psychologist like the Seth character. I already had his character in the works when my friend and I reconnected. That was a great bit of serendipity.

Jen: Your first book, Real Life and Liars, had at its core a physical illness, but your three books since then deal with characters with more psychological diseases: gambling, alcoholism, hoarding. Is there something that attracts you more to characters with problems of the mind, rather than solely of the body?

Kristina: Even Real Life and Liars was a book about the characters’ emotional lives, though a physical illness was the crisis at the center of the book. People fascinate me, especially when they don’t act in rational, logical, sensible ways. We’re all screwed up some way or another, and I don’t think my characters are all that different than people in general. It’s like that old slogan from the Biography TV show. “Every life has a story.”

Jen:  How does it feel releasing your fourth book? Is it much different than releasing your first?

Kristina: It does feel a little more normal, now, going to book events and talking to readers. But I still — and I’m sure always will — get a thrill out of fan mail, and signing books. I’m a little more anxious, too, in some ways. The longer I do this, the longer I want to do it. Forever, if I can. As long as my fingers can type. That’s a tall order in today’s publishing climate. But I’m hopeful for a long career.

Jen: Can you share one piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Kristina: I just heard this quote from the late Ray Bradbury on NPR’s Fresh Air: “By doing things, things get done.” If you want to be a writer, then by all means, write. If you want to publish, then research publishing in whatever form you choose to pursue. The point is, you can’t wish and hope yourself into being a writer anymore than you can anything else.

____

I have two copies of Keepsake to give away to a lucky reader anywhere in the world. Please enter on the form below by the 11:59 pm Eastern on Friday, July 20th.

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Keepsake by Kristina Riggle – Book Review

Keepsake by Kristina Riggle
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks

When Trish’s younger son, Jack, breaks his arm in an accident around the house, his doctor calls Child Protective Services. It isn’t that Trish is abusive by any means – she loves her son dearly – but her house may not be a safe place for him to live, in fact her older son Drew already chose to move out and live with his girlfriend’s family. The problem is that Trish is a hoarder, just like her mother was. She started years ago, as more of a pack rat, but after her husband left the obsession to keep things grew until her house became bad enough that her son could have an accident in the piles of junk capable of breaking his arm. Now Trish must show Jack’s case worker that she can clean up her act – literally – if she wants to keep him. The idea of Jack being taken away spurs Drew to reach out to his Aunt Mary, Trish’s long-estranged sister.

Keepsake is told from both Trish and Mary’s points of view, the woman with the uncontrollable urge to hoard and the woman with OCD, which are evidently two sides of the same coin. Having both of them narrate keeps a good tension between the current crisis situation and their shared past which made these women who they are. This also helped keep the plot of Keepsake be driven along by the characters instead of simply by the plot.

In Keepsake Riggle is telling an incredibly compelling and engaging story. The hoarding pathos rings true, as does the tension between Trish and Mary (not to mention the rest of the family). The family must learn how to work together in order to move forward and heal, but Riggle never makes things pat or maudlin. Keepsake is a wonderful family drama, and not one that seems the same as all you’ve read before. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle – Book Review

Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, in imprint of HarperCollins

Family isn’t always easy, and the Turner family has their own special problems. Michael Turner is trying to make things work with his live-in fiance Casey, but his mentally ill ex-wife Mallory doesn’t make that easy, particularly when Michael must worry about his three children every time they visit their mother for the weekend. Casey has demons of her own – the death of her brother, her recovering alcoholism – and is no longer sure that her love for Michael is enough. She’s ready to walk out the door, never to return, when she gets a call from the high school that Dylan, Michael’s middle child, attends, saying that he never showed up for school. Suddenly a complicated situation is made all the more complicated by a missing teenager, and the Turners must decide just what sort of family they really are.

Riggle is at her best when she is living inside the messy reality of modern families, and Things We Didn’t Say is full of some of her most deliciously flawed characters yet. All six of the major characters – Casey, Michael, Mallory, and the three children – narrate at least one chapter in their own voice. As opposed to her first book, Real Life & Liars, which also featured a family, but in which most character’s chapters were in the third person, each family member actually gets to narrate their chapters in first person, bringing the reader closer to even the least central members of the family. Particularly effective is one of Mallory’s chapters, her smug and destructive attitude practically oozes from the pages, leaving the reader feeling furious, and perhaps slightly contaminated by her bile.

Things We Didn’t Say is a fascinatingly intimate look at the lives of a single, ordinary family during a time of extraordinary crisis. It is rich and engrossing, a read that will captivate your very heart. I read almost the entire thing in two sittings, and would have easily sat long enough to read it in a single sitting, had my own life not intervened. Things We Didn’t Say is a beautiful book; highly recommended.

Disclaimer: Please note, I have spent some time in a friendly manner with Riggle at various book events, but this has in no way influenced the content of this review. I loved this book wholeheartedly because it is great book, and not because I occasionally chat with Riggle on Twitter.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Virtual Book Club Author Talk – Kristina Riggle, Author of The Life You’ve Imagined

If you missed it, yesterday was our virtual book club for “The Life You’ve Imagined” by Kristina Riggle. Please feel free to go back and add any thoughts you might have if you weren’t able to discuss yesterday. Today we’re actually getting the opportunity to ask Kristina Riggle some questions about the book. I’m going to start with some based on yesterday’s discussion, but please feel free to add more in the comments, or respond to her responses, and Kristina will pop in as she’s able to shed some more light on things for us.

  1. What made you give Cami a gambling addiction? I just haven’t been able to get over how different that was from anything else I’ve read recently. It seems like everyone in the book club agrees that it worked very well in “The Life You’ve Imagined,” but other people were surprised to read it as well.
  2. As a follow up, Cami’s future seemed to be to be the most ambivalent of all of the women, and another reader mentioned that she was really concerned for Cami not seeming to have a plan in place to deal with her addiction. What was the reason you chose to leave her like that and not wrap up her story more?
  3. And ONE more about Cami: did you have to do a lot of research about gambling and gambling addiction to write her story?
  4. A question from Bookfan: “Would you consider writing Maeve’s story – from where it leaves off at the end of TLYI? I’d love to see where you’d take her!”
  5. There was some debate over whether people wanted – at any point – for Amy to break things off with her fiance. Did you ever secretly want her to, or think about taking the story in that direction?
  6. A question from Shonda: “What was the significance with trailers? Sally lived in one and it burned. Maeve met Robert in one on the land he wanted to buy. While reading, I thought this is important, but I couldn’t figure out why.”
  7. The men of Haven, everyone seems to want to know about them, and many people seem to think there really aren’t any good ones. Thoughts?

If anyone else has any questions, ask away!